The Prophecy 3: The Ascent (2000) — Agnostic Front

Matty shrugs his shoulders and tries to make sense of the raging angel saga’s weakest entry.

As with the Dimension-backed sequels to Children of the Corn (1984) and Hellraiser (1987), analysing the five-strong Prophecy saga as a whole is tough. Typically, true connectivity is an afterthought — no surprise considering a lot of the time Dimension head Bob Weinstein was simply wanting an ashcan copy to maintain a stranglehold on a property’s rights, as their last few Corn and Hellraiser instalments demonstrate. That said, The Prophecy series fares considerably better as far as unity goes. In terms of the personnel involved, in addition to Dimension ponying up the cash to make them, the entire Prophecy pentalogy has been shepherded by a single creative force: producer Joel Soisson and his company Neo Art & Logic — the same bloke/outfit Weinstein tasked with crafting several of the aforementioned Corns and Hellraisers, as well as Mimic 2 (2001) and 3 (2003) and the Dracula 2000 (2000) trilogy. And in terms of story, The Prophecy’s final chapters, Uprising (2005) and Forsaken (2005), form their own separate act, and the first three films, while playing fast and loose with the minutiae of their overarching narrative, at least join together insofar as characters briefly reappear (albeit often recast) and previous events are referenced and/or impact on what comes next. On screen, though, the immediate and obvious links between The Prophecy (1995), The Prophecy II (1998), and THE PROPHECY 3: THE ASCENT (2000) are two of its stars: the top-billed Christopher Walken as the evil angel Gabriel, and Steve Hytner’s bamboozled coroner, Joseph.

Following the end of the last movie, in The Prophecy 3 Gabriel is human and homeless on the streets of Los Angeles. He’s also now a good guy, and his job is to protect Danyael (Dave Buzzoto) — the grown-up, nephilim son of the cardboard cut-out characters played by Jennifer Beals and Russell Wong in The Prophecy II — who’s on course to meet his destiny and stop the still raging civil war in heaven. However, hot on the grossly unlikable Danny Jr.’s tail is the diabolical Zophael. Essayed with as much dynamism as a beige painted wall by the ultra-bland Vincent Spano, boring ol’ Zophael is working in tandem with another renegade angel, the high-ranking angel of genocide Pyriel (Scott Celverdon, channelling Warlock (1989) era Julian Sands), and they want the chaos to continue for, erm, reasons? I don’t know to be honest. It ain’t too clear. Anyway, Brad Dourif pops up as a psychotic religious zealot, and Hytner gets his biggest bite of Prophecy pie, spending a full reel info-dumping and filling in the missing pieces of what amounts to a confused, motiveless hodge-podge of a plot.

Indeed, witnessing the usual mischievous twinkle in the badly wigged Walken’s eyes as he prowls skid row and then cruises around the desert in a convertible might be the only genuinely enjoyable aspect of The Prophecy 3, but it’s Hytner’s convincingly harried turn that encapsulates its mood. Because despite the best efforts of debuting director Patrick Lussier — the former go-to splicer of fright master Wes Craven, and future helmer of such infinitely superior offerings as My Bloody Valentine 3D (2009), Drive Angry (2011), and the above-noted Dracula 2000 triumvirate — The Prophecy 3 is a very tired-seeming picture. Sure, it looks nice and there’s a smattering of cool parkour-based stunts, but Soisson and Carl Dupre’s script is zestless, clumsy, faffy, and annoyingly hard to keep up with. In short, it’s the worst of the generally pretty nifty series — an especially sad notion as it would prove to be the eminently watchable Hytner and Walken’s franchise swansong. But hey, credit where it’s due: in that regard, there’s a palpable, low-key sense of finality to proceedings, and the actual sign off to Gabriel’s arc is excellent and surprisingly emotional. It’s just a shame that it’s prefigured by a boatload of crap.

The Prophecy 3 hit U.S. video and DVD on 14th March 2000 and landed on British cassette just over a year later, on 19th March 2001.

USA ● 2000 ● Horror ● 80mins

Christopher Walken, Vincent Spano, Dave Buzzoto, and Steve Hytner ● Dir. Patrick Lussier ● Wri. Joel Soisson & Carl Dupre

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